In Search of Treasure - Horatio Alger - ebook

“I wish I could send you to college, Guy,” said Mr. Fenwick, as they sat in the library, reading by the soft light of a student lamp.The speaker was the Rev. Mr. Fenwick, the pastor of a church in Bayport, a few miles from New Bedford, Massachusetts.“I don’t think I care much about going to college, father,” said Guy, a bright, manly, broad-shouldered boy of sixteen.“When I was of your age, Guy,” replied his father, “I was already a student of Harvard. You are ready for college, but my means are not sufficient to send you there.”“Don’t worry about that, father. There are other paths to success than through college.”“I am rather surprised to hear you speak so indifferently, Guy. At the academy you are acknowledged to be the best Latin and Greek scholar they have had for years.”“That may be, father.”

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Horatio Alger

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“ I wish I could send you to college, Guy,” said Mr. Fenwick, as they sat in the library, reading by the soft light of a student lamp.The speaker was the Rev. Mr. Fenwick, the pastor of a church in Bayport, a few miles from New Bedford, Massachusetts. “ I don’t think I care much about going to college, father,” said Guy, a bright, manly, broad-shouldered boy of sixteen. “ When I was of your age, Guy,” replied his father, “I was already a student of Harvard. You are ready for college, but my means are not sufficient to send you there.” “ Don’t worry about that, father. There are other paths to success than through college.” “ I am rather surprised to hear you speak so indifferently, Guy. At the academy you are acknowledged to be the best Latin and Greek scholar they have had for years.” “ That may be, father.” “ It is so. The principal so assured me, and he would not misrepresent just to please me.” “ I am glad that I have so good a reputation.” “ With such qualifications it seems certain you would achieve success in college, graduate high, and, in time, become a distinguished professional man, or perhaps professor.” “ Perhaps I might; but, father, in spite of my taste for study, I have one taste still stronger.” “ What is that?” “ A taste for adventure. I want to see the world, to visit strange countries, to become acquainted with strange people.”As the boy spoke his face became flushed and animated.Mr. Fenwick looked surprised. “ Certainly,” he said, “you don’t get this taste from me. When I was a boy I used to stay indoors to read and study. I cared nothing for the sports and games that interested my school companions.”Guy smiled. “ I believe you, father,” he said. “You don’t go out half enough now. Instead of shutting yourself up in your study, you would be stronger and healthier if you would walk five miles a day.”Mr. Fenwick slightly shuddered.He was a pale, thin man, with an intellectual look, but had the air of a scholar and a recluse. “ I couldn’t do it, Guy,” he said. “Even if I walk a mile, I feel that it is a hardship. It is tame and monotonous. I don’t see where you get your red cheeks and exuberant spirits from.” “ From my mother’s family, I think, father.” “ Very likely. Your mother was bright and animated when I married her, but she broke down under the manifold duties and engagements of a minister’s wife.” “ That is true. Poor mother!”Guy sighed, and his bright face looked sorrowful, for it was only a twelvemonth since his mother was laid away in the little graveyard at Bayport. “ You look very much like your uncle George, your mother’s brother, as he was at your age.” “ He became a sailor?” “ Yes. He had an extraordinary love for the sea. If he had been content to live on land and follow some mercantile business, he would, in all probability, be living to-day.” “ How did he die?” “ He took a fever at some infected port, and died on shipboard. The poor fellow was still a comparatively young man, little more than thirty, and it seemed sad that he should be cut off at such an early age.” “ Was his body brought home?” “ No. Sailors are superstitious, and they don’t like to sail in a ship that has a dead body on board. So poor George was sewed up in a sack, and committed to the ocean depths. His chest was sent to us, and is stored in the attic.” “ Have you ever opened it?” “ Yes, I opened it, but didn’t examine the contents. Probably there was nothing except a sailor’s plain outfit. As to money, George was not a man to save anything. He was extravagant and prodigal, like most of his class.” “ Was he a common sailor?” “ No; he was second mate, and received fair wages. He did not have your education, but had good native talent, but nothing could divert him from his plan of going to sea.” “ Well, father, I suppose there must be sailors. You would hardly want everybody to go to college?” “ No, Guy.” “ Even if they were qualified.” “ Still, I should not care to have my son a sailor.” “ I don’t care to be one, father, but I own I should like to take a single voyage—a good long one—so as to see a little of the world. I think, after that, I should be more content to settle down to some business on shore. By the way, father, is there any objection to my examining the contents of Uncle George’s chest?” “ I have no objection, Guy; but I think it will hardly repay you for the time.” “ My time isn’t of very much importance just now. Somehow I have a great desire to see if I can find anything that will throw light on my uncle’s life and character.” “ Very well, Guy; do as you like. And now, I must get to work on my sermon for next Sunday. It is Friday evening, and I must make progress, as I may have one of my bad headaches to-morrow.” “ Can I help you, father?” asked Guy, with a humorous smile.Mr. Fenwick smiled, too. Though so different in temperament, he was really fond and proud of his lively son. “ I hardly think your additions would be for the edification of my people,” he said. “ Perhaps they might suit some of the young folks,” suggested Guy. “ Doubtless they would. If you would like to try your hand at sermon writing you can write a sermon and submit it to me. If suitable, I will preach it, and give you credit for it.”Guy laughed. “ I’ll think of it, father,” he said. “I am going to make a call on one of my schoolmates, and will leave you to do your writing undisturbed.”The schoolmate with whom Guy spent his evening was Tom Todd, a boy of about his own age. He had a sister some ten years older than himself, who was a teacher in one of the Bayport schools. She, as well as Tom, liked the bright son of the minister, and he received a cordial greeting from both. “ So you have got through school life, Guy?” she said. “ Yes, Miss Todd.” “ And you are fitted for college? Does your father think of Harvard for you?” “ He would like to have me go, but there are two objections in the way.” “ What are they?” “ First, he can’t afford the expense.” “ What is the second?” “ I have no desire to go.” “ That is the most important. If you really desired to go, I think you could borrow money enough somewhere, for you are acknowledged to be an excellent scholar.” “ Thank you for the compliment; but it is no disappointment to me not to go, though it is to my father. He is a regular bookworm, you know.” “ I know that he is not practical.” “ Come, Guy, let us have our game of checkers,” said Tom. “Let me see, I beat you last time.” “ Then it is my turn to beat you now.”The boys played for an hour and a half, then Guy rose to go. “ What is your hurry? It is early yet.” “ That is true, but father is nervous, and he doesn’t like to have me out after half past nine o’clock. I left him writing his sermon for Sunday.” “ Why don’t you offer to help him, Guy?” asked Tom, with a smile. “ I did.” “ Really and truly?” said Tom, laughing. “ Yes; really and truly.” “ I suppose,” remarked Miss Todd, “he did not accept your offer?” “ No; he thought that what I would write would not be edifying.” “ If you would write a sermon, Guy, I would go to hear it,” said Tom. “ And I, too,” added his sister, the teacher. “ Then I should be sure of a congregation of two. Well, I will think of it.”Guy took his hat to go. “ I will walk with you part way,” said Tom. “It is pleasant out, and I shall sleep the better for a walk.” “ I shall be glad of your company, Tom.”When they were outside, Tom said, “I had an object in proposing to walk with you to-night, Guy. There is something I wanted to tell you.” “ Go ahead, Tom.” “ I think it is something you ought to know. I was walking home from singing school the other evening, when I came up behind Deacon Crane and another member of the church, Mr. Job Wilkins. I didn’t hear the first part of the conversation, but as I came within hearing I heard Deacon Crane say: ‘Yes, Brother Wilkins, I have thought for some time that the best interests of the church required that we should have a younger minister, who would stir up the people and draw in a larger number.’”Guy flushed with indignation. “ Deacon Crane said that?” he ejaculated. “Why, he pretends to be one of father’s best friends.” “ I think it is a pretense,” said Tom. “ Poor father! If he should hear this it would almost break his heart. He is so fond of the people here.” “ It is a shame; but don’t worry too much over it. I am sure the majority of the parish don’t wish any change.”In spite of this assurance, Guy went home in a sober frame of mind.


Mr. Fenwick was only forty-eight years old, but his sedate and scholarly manner gave him an appearance of being several years older.It came to Guy as a shock that his father should be considered too old by his parish, and that there should be any movement in favor of a younger minister. He knew that his father was dependent on his salary, having very little property. A change would be disastrous to him. “ I wish I were rich,” he thought, “so that I could relieve father from any anxiety about money matters. It is lucky I don’t want to go to college, for if I did, it would be a good many years before I could even support myself.”The next morning, after breakfast, Guy thought of his sailor uncle, and the curiosity again seized him to find out the contents of the chest up in the attic.He went up the narrow stairs leading to the garret, and found himself in a large room covering the entire extent of the house, for the attic had never been finished off or divided into chambers. There were piles of old papers and magazines in one corner, old mildewed garments hanging from nails in the rafters, and two or three old rusty trunks.But none of them attracted Guy’s attention. He was looking for his uncle’s chest.At last he found it—a typical sailor’s chest, painted blue, showing signs of wear, for it had accompanied his uncle for years.Guy’s face lighted up, and he hurried toward it.He thought it might be locked, but he was glad to find that the lock seemed to have been broken, so that he had no difficulty in lifting the lid and examining the contents.There was nothing unusual about these. They consisted of the plain outfit of a sailor.There were one or two books. One of them was a Bible, which had been presented to his uncle George by his mother at the time he left home on his first voyage.Guy lifted it carefully, for he had been taught to reverence the Bible. Then he saw underneath, an envelope of large size, unmarked on the outside.Opening this, he found a large sheet of paper, folded lengthwise, with writing upon it. Lying inside was a smaller piece of paper, also written over, the handwriting being that of his uncle George.This Guy read first. The contents interested him exceedingly.The paper is subjoined.What I am writing here may or may not be of interest or value, yet it may prove of importance to those who may read it, though it is possible this will not be till after my death. Last year (from the date Guy saw that it was the year before his death) among my mates on the good ship Cyprus was a dark, thin man, the darkest in complexion, I think, that I ever met outside the negro race.No one on board knew him, nor did any of us get well acquainted with him, for he was very silent and reserved, and did not care to make friends or confidants. Yet he did his duty well. No fault could be found with him. He did not become a favorite, as he did not care to talk or be sociable with the rest of the sailors. We could not help respecting him, however, as one who strictly minded his own business, and never in any way interfered with others.This man’s name was Antonio Smith, or Tony, as we should have called him if we had been sufficiently intimate. The two names did not go well together, and one day I asked him why it was that he had two such names. “ It is easily explained,” he said. “My father was an Englishman, named Smith, but my mother was an Italian woman.” “ That explains your being so dark,” I said. “ Yes, I suppose so,” he answered.He did not confide in me to any further extent. As far as I could observe, he seemed moody and morbid. It seemed as if he had something on his mind—something of a disagreeable nature.Well, toward the end of the voyage he had a bad fall. He was helping to furl sails when another sailor above him lost his hold, and fell on him. This made Antonio lose his hold also, and he dropped to the deck, striking his head.It is a wonder he was not immediately killed. As it was he was fatally injured, as it proved, and was removed to his bunk in a dying condition. I pitied the poor fellow, and as much time as my duties would permit I spent at his side, trying to make him comfortable.One evening he looked at me earnestly, and asked: “Do you think that I can live, George?”I shook my head. “I don’t want to deceive you,” I answered, “and I will tell you the truth.” “ It is what I want to hear,” he said. “ The doctor says you can’t live.”He showed no agitation, but said, thoughtfully: “That is what I thought.”After a pause he continued: “Before I die there is something I want to confide to someone. You have been a friend to me, and you are the one I choose, if you don’t mind, to listen to what I have to say.” “ I will hear it,” I said, “and if it is a message to anyone in whom you are interested I will engage to deliver it, if possible.” “ No, there is no one in whom I am interested,” he answered. “All who once knew me are dead, or at all events are dead to me. But I have a secret which I once thought would be of value to me, and may be of value to you, whom I constitute my heir.”All this seemed very queer to me, and I half thought that the sick man might be wandering in mind. He went on: “You must know, George, and this is my first secret, that for five years I sailed under the black flag, and was a pirate!”I looked astounded, as well I might, and he continued: “ I see you look surprised, but you are not more surprised than I was when I found myself enrolled as a member of a piratical crew. I shipped on board the Vulture, supposing it to be an ordinary merchantman. It was not till I got well out to sea that I learned the true character of the vessel. Then I was asked to sign as a member of the crew, and knowing well it would be dangerous to refuse, I agreed. “ After a while I got reconciled, in a measure, to my position. I found it more profitable than the post of an ordinary seaman, and yet not so much so as might be supposed. While the booty taken was very large, it was not all divided between the officers and men. There was a considerable portion that was set aside as a fund to be divided some time between us when we disbanded. For not one of the officers or men expected always to continue pirates. Some day we hoped to give up this outlaw’s life and become respectable citizens, living in ease and luxury on our share of the booty. No one would be the wiser. “ I was an Englishman, and I looked forward to returning to my native village in Devonshire, marrying, and settling down. There was a farm on which I had my eye, and an old schoolmate—a farmer’s daughter—whom I thought I could induce to marry me when I returned rich.” “ But where was this booty, as you call it, concealed?” I asked. “ That is what I was coming to. It was concealed on a small island east by north from the great island of Madagascar, which, as you know, lies southeast of the African continent. There is a group of islands there. None of us, that is, none of the ordinary sailors, knew the name of the island, if it had any. But I have thought it over, and consulted maps, and to the best of my reckoning it is one of the Agalegas Islands in about 57 degrees east longitude, and a little more than 10 degrees south latitude. I estimate that it may be a few hundred miles from Cape Amber, the northern extremity of Madagascar.” “ Did you often go there—that is, did the ship often touch there?” “ Every few months, when we had a good supply of money and articles to leave there.” “ I suppose there was quite a valuable collection of articles stored there?” “ I can’t tell the value, but there were chests full of gold and silver coins, boxes of bankbills, and merchandise of the rarest and most valuable description.” “ Is it there now, or has it been divided?” “ It is there yet.” “ How came you to leave the pirate ship?” “ I did not leave it till I was compelled to do so.” “ How is that? Were you discharged? I should hardly think the officers would have dared to let you go, considering your knowledge as to the character of the ship.” “ You are right there. They would not have dared to do so, but the Almighty, whose laws had been so flagrantly defied, interfered. There came on a terrible storm when we were cruising in the Indian Ocean. It was so violent and unexpected that we were by no means prepared to meet it. “ In the course of three hours the staunch ship Vulture became a wreck, and the crew who manned it were forced to take to the boats. There were three of these. The captain was in one, the first mate in the second, and the boatswain in the third. The sea was so rough that the first and second boats were swamped before our eyes. I was in the third. When the storm abated it was still afloat. I was one of the men on board. “ For a week we drifted about, suffering everything from hunger and thirst, for we were able to carry but scanty stores of food and water. One by one I saw my comrades die, but having, perhaps, the best constitution, unimpaired by excesses of any kind, I survived—the last of eight men. I was very near death when I was picked up by an American ship. Of course, I did not say a word as to the character of the vessel to which I belonged, and those who rescued me were not too inquisitive, so I reached New York without divulging any secrets. But my great secret was that, as the last survivor of the piratical crew, I was the heir and sole possessor of the treasure stored on the island!”


Guy drew a long breath when he had read thus far in the manuscript, and then plunged into it again.When I heard this stated I could not help feeling an emotion of pity for the poor fellow who would never have the benefit of the large treasure to which he had become heir. I could not understand exactly why he had revealed all this to me, but he soon made it plain. “ I shall not live to enjoy it,” he continued, “but I don’t want the secret to die with me. I would like to have it benefit someone not utterly a stranger. You have been kind to me, and to you I will give all right and will to this great property.” “ But how shall I find it?” I asked. “ I have prepared a document,” he replied, “in which I describe the island, and the particular part of the island where the treasure is concealed. Put your hand into the pocket of my blouse, and you will feel a folded paper. Take it, and some day I hope you will be fortunate enough to find the place where the booty is secreted.”I thanked him, though I was almost too bewildered to realize that a secret had been communicated to me that might make me fabulously rich.That very night Antonio died. His body was sewed up in a sack, as is the custom, and thrown into the sea. Of all who witnessed it, I was the only one who had a kindly feeling of regret for the poor fellow.Whether I shall ever be able to make any use of this information, I do not know. It would require a considerable outlay in money to fit out an expedition, and I have very little chance of inducing anyone to make this outlay. I have, however, written out an account of the sailor’s revelation to me, in the hope that someone, perhaps after my death, may seek and obtain a treasure which I think must be of fabulous amount.(Signed) George Brandon.Guy read this letter with breathless interest. He took in the full importance of its contents.He realized that by the death of his uncle he became the next heir to this far-away treasure. What should he do about it? With him there was the same embarrassment and the same difficulty that his uncle had experienced.The treasure he fully believed in, but it was located thousands of miles away on a small island in the Indian Ocean.It was tantalizing to reflect that it existed, and might make him rich, when it seemed wholly beyond his grasp. All the capital he could command was about twenty-five dollars in the Bayport Savings Bank.The next question was: Should he tell his father of the discovery he had made? It might be his duty to do so. He did not know as to that.His father had given him full permission to open and examine the chest and its contents. Possibly the papers and the secret belonged to him, but he knew very well that they would be of no earthly benefit to a quiet country minister who lived in his books and his study.To him—Guy—on the other hand, it might prove of value. He did not know when or how, but he was young, and to the young all things are possible.So, after thinking the matter over fully, Guy resolved to keep the matter secret.He glanced at the second paper, and found that it was a minute description of the island, but he had not got far enough along to feel interested in this. It would keep.Guy went downstairs slowly, plunged in thought. He hoped his father would not ask about the contents of the chest, but he need not have felt alarmed. The matter had passed entirely out of the minister’s thoughts.In order the better to think over the wonderful revelation, Guy went out for a stroll. Like many older persons, he found a walk was favorable to thought.He walked slowly up the street to the post office. At the corner of the second street, just opposite the dry goods store, he met a boy whom he had never liked.It was Noah Crane, the son of Deacon Crane, already referred to as desiring a younger minister.The thought of the deacon’s wish to drive his father from Bayport was not calculated to increase Guy’s friendship for the son. Yet he would be courteous, being naturally a gentleman. “ Where are you going, Guy?” asked Noah. “ I am only taking a walk.” “ Some other people may have to take a walk,” said Noah, with a coarse laugh. “ What do you mean?” asked Guy, coloring, for he knew to what the deacon’s son referred. “ Oh, I guess I’d better not tell,” replied Noah, in a tantalizing tone. “ Just as you please,” said Guy, coolly.Noah was disappointed, for he wanted Guy to ask him a question which he was very ready to answer. Guy’s indifference piqued him. “ You’ll know soon enough,” added Crane. “ In that case I will be content to wait.” “ I don’t know that I have any objection to tell, though. I mean your father.” “ Take care how you talk about my father,” said Guy, angrily. “I won’t stand it.” “ Oh, is your father so high and mighty that he can’t be spoken about?” “ He can be spoken about—respectfully.” “ I suppose you think he’s a great man because he’s a minister.” “ I rank a minister higher than a deacon,” retorted Guy, quietly. “ You do, hey? Why, my father could buy out your father two or three times over.” “ That may be; but what does that prove?” “ It proves that you’d better be careful how you talk. I heard my father say the other day that the people wanted a new minister—a young man that would make things lively. I shouldn’t wonder if your father’d have to take a walk before long.” “ And I am certain that you’ll have to walk pretty fast if you don’t want to feel the force of my fists.”Guy advanced toward Noah so menacingly that the latter took counsel of prudence and retreated hastily. “ Keep away from me, you bully!” he cried, “or I’ll tell my father!”Guy laughed, and walked away, not caring to have any difficulty with Noah. What the deacon’s son had said, however, furnished him food for reflection.Things began to look serious. There was evidently a movement on foot to get rid of his father, and this movement was headed by Deacon Crane, a man of influence in the parish and the town. “ If I could only get hold of this treasure, say within a year,” thought Guy, “I would snap my fingers at the deacon. It would make me rich, and if I were rich my father would be rich, too, and independent of the parish.”The “if,” however, though a very short word, was a very important one. It seemed about as practicable to go in search of the treasure as to undertake a journey to the moon, and no more so.When Guy went home to dinner he found Captain Grover, an old schoolmate of his father, a guest at the parsonage.The captain and his family lived in New Bedford, and he was about to start on a voyage from there. Happening to be in Bayport on a little private business, he called on the minister. Unlike some shipmasters, he was a man of a kindly nature, and was a favorite with Guy. “ So here is Guy,” he said, as the boy entered. “Bless my soul, Guy, I shouldn’t have known you if I had met you out of Bayport, you have grown so. What are you going to do with him, Brother Fenwick?” “ I would like to send him to Harvard, John,” replied the minister, “but there doesn’t seem to be any chance of that,” he added, with a sigh. “ Why not?” “ Because I am not rich enough.” “ Oh, well, college is all very well, but there are other things that are good for a boy. If I had a son, I don’t think I would send him to college.” “ I agree with you, Captain Grover,” said Guy, promptly. “ Your uncle George was a sailor?” “ Yes, sir.” “ Did you ever think you would like to go to sea?” “ I don’t think I should like to be a sailor, but I should like to go to sea for a single voyage.” “ It would do you good. You’d learn more in a year at sea than in double the time on land.” “ So I think, sir. When do you start on your next voyage?” “ Next week.” “ In what direction shall you go?” “ I shall go to India—probably stopping at Bombay.” “ Will your course lie through the Indian Ocean?” asked Guy, eagerly. “ Yes.” “ I always wished I could sail over the Indian Ocean,” said Guy. “ Yes, it is an interesting voyage. Are you through school?” “ Yes; I finished last week.” “ Then I’ll tell you what, Guy; if your father’ll let you go, I’ll take you.” “ Oh, father, may I go?” asked Guy, in a tone of earnest appeal. “ Go to India?” exclaimed the minister, bewildered by the suggestion. “ Yes; it would make me very happy.”In the end, Guy, seconded by the captain, carried his point, and obtained his father’s consent. He had, as we know, his own reasons for wishing to make this voyage. It was something more than a boy’s love of adventure.The next week the Osprey sailed with Guy as a passenger. He quickly established himself as a favorite with the sailors. He was so bright, handsome, and intelligent, that he seemed like a gleam of sunshine, making the whole ship cheerful.He cultivated the acquaintance of the crew, plying them with questions, and often might be seen engaged in an animated discussion with veteran sailors who were always ready to spin a yarn for him.Captain Grover viewed all this with an indulgent smile. “ I am afraid, Guy,” he said one day, with a laugh, “that you are picking up so much knowledge you will try to supersede me on the next voyage.” “ It will take more than one voyage to qualify me for a captain,” returned Guy. “Still, if you need help, call on me.”